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Old 02-19-2019, 11:53 AM
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Arrow Why the latest US Navy deployment to the Black Sea is unusually special

Why the latest US Navy deployment to the Black Sea is unusually special
By: Tom Rogan Washington Examiner / February 19, 2019 12:23 PM

My reporting colleague Joel Gehrke notes that the commander of U.S. naval forces in Europe, Adm. James Foggo, is sending a destroyer into the Black Sea. While this deployment isn't unprecedented, the manner of Foggo's order is unusual unusual, and very positive.

It sends Russia a rare message of both American anger and resolve.

The former attack submarine commander's language was explicit. Foggo says the USS Donald Cook's deployment reflects his becoming "irritated" by Russia's "extremely bothersome" conduct in the Sea of Azov. But the admiral also mocked the harassment (a favored, albeit idiotic, Russian ploy) the Russian military is likely to employ against the Donald Cook. Foggo noted that Russia's "surface navy is not an equivalent match for either the United States Navy or [other] NATO navies in the world." The implication: You talk a big game, but we're stronger than you. Foggo knows that language will infuriate his Russian counterparts, but that's his intent.

As it should be, because the admiral's anger is wholly justified. Russia continues to detain 24 Ukrainian sailors it seized last November in Ukrainian or international waters. Sitting between the Crimean peninsula and the Ukrainian and Russian mainlands, Russian President Vladimir Putin sees the Sea of Azov as playground in which to degrade Ukrainian sovereignty. But now the Donald Cook's deployment will make the Black Sea America's playground.

The risks here are necessary and manageable. The Russians know both that the Donald Cook's high-flying young command team won't provoke a combat confrontation, but also that the U.S. crew can defend themselves effectively. That deterrent effect makes a violent exchange exceptionally unlikely.

There is one caveat here. The Donald Cook will almost certainly remain in the Black Sea rather than attempt to enter the Sea of Azov itself. Russian land-based missile and artillery platforms surround that sea and could wreak havoc on any intruding forces. Instead, the Donald Cook will likely operate in a way and area that maximizes its capabilities and mitigates its vulnerabilities.

NOTE: Yes, some will say this is an unwarranted American escalation, but they are wrong. Russian aggression toward Ukraine is anathema to the democratic international order. Foggo's well-framed deployment repudiates Russia on terms its leaders most respect: with deliberate resolve and lethally-vested strength.

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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